Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Greatest Honor

Is there any greater honor than being entrusted with the care of a helpless human being, not just the washing and feeding, the physical, but spirit-shaping, soul nurturing tiny developing brains! 

It's inspiring children's hearts as they grow to be givers and receivers of love in a way that dignifies them and others.

What a privilege to be a parent and a grandparent! How extraordinary that God created these amazing roles for us. He wants us to have image-shaping power! And to do it with awareness that each child has a God-designed life purpose to accomplish.

I'm humbled beyond words to have had the role eleven times helping shape human souls - four times as a mother and seven as a grandmother.

The task is grand when we consider that character formation is the work of a lifetime and we've only a few years to make an impact. Character training is a nonnegotiable. It must exist or the structure caves in. 

Also important is developing within children a sense of wonder that can find reason to be grateful in the darkess days and the emptiest places. 

I want to be a parent and grandparent who teaches and celebrates the joy of life, and the dignity of every human being, even the unkind, rude, and troublesome.

Eye to eye, word by word let us speak truth to these vulnerable beings.

Let's have conversations with focused eye contact, touch and experience the individuality of each child.

May our children live with the added bounce that comes from knowing their preciousness and purpose.

Let us love well these children whose lives we hold with ours. They grow up to be the most amazing adults.

May my new grandparent book, Secrets To Being A Great Grandparent and my new parenting book Soaring As A Parent, Secrets To Being Great offer real, practical help for this joyous task. Both are available through amazon.

[I'm deeply appreciative of the reviews you've taken the time to write.]

Monday, March 3, 2014

Approaching One Year Into Glory

 Part Two of Our Journey of Remembrance

As I’m writing it’s about a year since we spent time in Orlando with Drew – our last days with our twenty-four-year old grandson on earth, precious then and even more so now. When we picked Drew up at the Greyhound bus station he strode into the terminal strong, smiling, enthusiastic, and we hugged long and hard.  Our 3-day adventure together included tennis, and golf, and sunbathing and hikes and Downtown Disney and conversation-packed meals at our resort and local restaurants.

Drew told us about the new Progressive club, a life goals accountability group among his friends, that he’d started and the business ideas he and his new friend Erwin were exploring. He read us the inspirational blogs he’d written during our picnic lunch. and seemed surprised when we said these are REALLY good Drew.

Two weeks ago Wayne and I revisited Lake Eola and the Panera Bread where we had a second lunch with Drew after our fried chicken picnic laughing and fighting off the intrusive swans. Who can forget the facebook picture of Drew with his arm extended to the swan?  

Wayne and I walked Lake Eola reliving memories and I took a picture of Wayne with one of the swans ala Drew. I saw several black swans and decided they must be in mourning for Drew.

Our journey of remembering continued with meeting Stevie B the next day and receiving the news related in my last blog. As grandparents we were thrilled to know that Stevie B, the man who counseled Drew in his addiction recovery program, knew Drew well. Stevie’s wife also knew Drew and had talked at length with him several times and so did Stevie B’s parents and his grandpa.  Drew had even been invited to Stevie B’s grandpa’s 90th birthday party.  All were deeply saddened over his death. 

How it comforted us to know that Drew had a family that truly cared about him during his time in FL. No wonder Drew’s death was motivational in their decision to move forward with the plan for a Christian recovery house. Stevie B’s wife totally supports what her husband is doing and is a vital part. 

If anyone is looking for a wonderful recovery place with godly leadership, Stevie B is the perfect man for this job, every moment encouraging his men in recovery, seeing to their personal and job needs, joking.  His phone is never out of reach, usually answered on the first ring. To have a conversation with him is to respect that he’s more on call than a medical doctor as a doctor of men’s bodies and souls and he will interrupt his life at any moment to act on behalf of one of his guys.

Stevie B’s co-director is Ray, a warm, gracious man who told us his life story. He was Number 5 man at Price-Waterhouse in New York with his own private limo picking him up each day. For two decades he used drugs freely to keep his edge at work. Ray whipped out his phone to show us the tree in the cemetery in FL he ended up living under as he contemplated suicide. Then God turned his life around. He now works side by side with Stevie B to rescue others. Oh, and his brother kicked his drug habit and then became a Catholic priest and has been drug-free for 23 years working in a diocese in New York. A statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart in honor of their mother is in the JC House prayer garden.

Working with recovering addicts is a hard and challenging job and these men can use our prayers and any financial help we can give.

Stevie B. called our attention to the visible goose bumps popping up on his arms as he spoke about the Sat. after Drew’s death.  At Drew’s Cleveland recovery house the group was hearing about Drew’s death.  Drew’s mom Tamara and her husband Jamie walked by checking out where Drew had lived. Stevie had never met them, but he motioned them in as passerbys who might want to observe the open meeting.

Those in recovery were passing the microphone sharing memories of Drew.  Stevie asked Tamara if she’d like to say anything. She took the mike and said, “I’m Drew’s mom.” He said they were all in shock. He’ll never forget the moment, nor will anyone present. She shared about Drew's life and said from that day on they would all be like her sons and she needed them to make it.

A little coincidence or a big reminder that God’s timing is exquisite in all things. Even as I type through tears I trust God’s timing for Drew’s homecoming with all my heart even though every human desire is to have Drew here on earth.

Stevie added how impressed the men and women in recovery were when Tamara returned three times after Drew’s death gave her testimony as Drew’s Mom in their Celebrate Recovery program.

From the JC Recovery we visited the grounds of the immense Calvary Chapel church, Fort Lauderdale, where Drew went to church. It helped us understand why Drew thought his regular attendance at this fortress would be enough to support him in recovery.

My blog is titled Thoughts On Fun, Faith, And Family - this entry fits perfectly. FUN was rarely absent when our grandson  Drew was present. FAITH was a vital part of many things we did, and FAMILY – well Drew loved being "family" with us and we all celebrated it every chance we got and we’ll continue to do so, knowing this surely would be Drew’s desire.

That’s the end of our physical journey of remembering, but the spiritual journey will continue for the rest of our lives. Ordinary days become sacred when they become final memories – how I encourage you to treasure every day with those you love.